Upcoming Yellow Ribbon event supports deployed troops and their Families

Story and photos by 1st Lt. Mark Slaughter, Kentucky National Guard Yellow Ribbon Program

FRANKFORT, Ky. — For as long as nations have gone to war Families and friends have searched for ways to show support for their deployed loved ones.   Over the years one symbol has become universal in showing love for a Soldier or Airman far away from home; the yellow ribbon.  Simply tied to a porch or a tree in one’s yard, this modest image has come to represent ongoing love in the midst of absence.

The Kentucky National Guard has tied a yellow ribbon around the state, showing faithful support for the deployed troops and their Families.  Authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, the Department of Defense Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program provides National Guard and Reserve Members and their Families with information, services, referral and proactive outreach opportunities throughout the entire deployment cycle.

1LT Oscar Ortiz , with the Kentucky Yellow Ribbon Program

1st Lt. Oscar Ortiz prepares for a Yellow Ribbon event that will be held at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion, 4201 Versailles Road, Lexington, Ky. on October 23. (Photo by 1st Lt. Mark Slaughter, Kentucky Yellow Ribbon Program)

“We are here to inform the Soldiers and their Families of the many benefits they are entitled to for their service before, during and after deployment,” says 1st Lt. Oscar Ortiz, Yellow Ribbon Program Coordinator.

Ortiz and his staff are preparing for a during deployment event to be held at the Keeneland Sales Pavilion, 4201 Versailles Road, Lexington, Ky. on October 23.  It is open to any and all Family members with a Soldier or Airman who is currently mobilized.

“Yellow Ribbon events like this are intended to familiarize our Families with the resources available to them and give them opportunities to speak to service providers on site,” said Ortiz.

According to Ortiz, Yellow Ribbon representatives are available during the pre-deployment stage, to provide information and services that help Service Members and Families prepare for the separation.  Training, resources and services are available to help in the areas including financial preparation, emotional health, household support, deployment safety, and other strategies designed to help the Soldier and their Family transition into the deployment phase.

“It’s a pleasure working with Service Members and Families, knowing that I can make a difference,” says Rachel Conyers, Yellow Ribbon Program specialist who is helping Ortiz coordinate the upcoming event.

Rachel Conyers, support specialist with the Kentucky Yellow Ribbon Program

Rachel Conyers mails letters to families in preparation of an upcoming Yellow Ribbon event. (Photo by 1st Lt. Oscar Ortiz, Kentucky Yellow Ribbon Program)

Events are planned during the deployment that focuses on addressing the challenges and stressors associated with the separation that National Guard Families may experience.  They also provide an opportunity for Family members to connect with one another while their Soldier is deployed.

Yellow Ribbon support continues following a Soldier’s return with 60 to 90-day reintegration events. Service Members and Families can look forward to receiving marriage assessment and counseling information, Veterans Affairs information and enrollment assistance, education and training benefits, domestic violence awareness and prevention, suicide awareness and prevention, as well as vital health information on traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. Service providers from organizations like the Veterans Affairs Vet Center, TRICAREMilitary OneSourceNGB Employer Support, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program are also represented.

For more information on the upcoming Yellow Ribbon event in October — or any other question regarding the Yellow Ribbon program — contact Rachel Conyers, 502-607-1062 or email: rachel.conyers@us.army.mil.

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